HELP LINE: The best resolution is to simply try


Flying in the face of what many of us thought were impossible odds, we’ve actually made it to New Year’s Day, and I know what you’re thinking …

But don’t worry because I have no intention of airing that in a family-oriented newspaper.

But the other thing you’re worrying about is (are?) your New Year’s resolutions, and I can certainly understand why.

Perish forbid that we miss the opportunity to embrace yet another opportunity for personal failure.

Let’s face it: New Years resolutions are a tradition steeped in tradition, when we allow ourselves to be bullied by the calendar and intimidated into thinking that, just because the year is “new,” that we are now required to be “new,” too.

Re-invent ourselves

So we set about deciding to re-invent ourselves, which usually means doing less of something that we’ve been doing too much of with a few notable exceptions that will remain unarticulated here.

For instance, food is always good grist for the Resolution Mill.

We can, and often do, resolve to do less of it, or do it more … responsibly or both.

An example might be: “I resolve to eliminate processed sugar from my diet and replace it with celery.”

This probably sounded eminently practical, if not inspirational, at about, oh 2:30 this morning, but its luster might be fading as the day proceeds and, for some of the more profligate among us, aspirin ceases to be the primary nutritional supplement.

So once again defeated by our own stellar lack of self-discipline, we drown our sorrows in Oreos and resolve to resolve more courageously in 2018.

The problem wasn’t that the idea was bad or that our motivation was off-track.

The “problem” was that we bit off more than we could chew.

A more realistic resolution might have been: “I resolve not to eat Oreos with both hands.”

So let’s stay with the cultural norm of vowing to do less of something that is generally viewed as physically and medically deleterious, such as eating, drinking, smoking or watching the evening news.

While doing less of any of those will endear us to people who are near to us, food still seems the most likely target, so we tend to phrase everything in terms of what we’re not going to do, or what we’re going to do less of.

Example: “I resolve to eat less.”

Less than what? Less than yesterday? Less than Thanksgiving Day?

Less than the day that you won the “1984 Rattlesnake Stew Eating International” in Yuma?

You’ve got to narrow it down. And because nature abhors, or emphatically resents, a vacuum, what are you going to do more of to fill the void left by what you’re doing less of, namely, eating?

Drink? … No, that’s wrong …

I know: Exercise. There we go.

But again we have to be more specific: Exactly what will we do and when?

“I resolve to keep the cupcakes at the neighbor’s house, so I’ll have to walk next door every time I want one.”

Well, now you’re beginning to get the hang of it, although this particular resolution might require some refinement, based on some obvious questions:

• Are your neighbors armed to the teeth with the Second Amendment, thus handicapping your ability to fulfill your resolution at 4 in the morning?

• Do your neighbors like cupcakes?

• Are your neighbors likely to share your exuberance for the task, and retaliate by storing their Krispy Kreme donuts at your house?

Don’t be discouraged

But don’t be discouraged, because you’re thinking “correctly.”

The idea is to capitalize on an opportunity to do “better” — better than we’ve done, better than we’ve been, more than we’ve been, healthier than we’ve been — so we can have the life that we claim to want, the way we claim to want it.

And so that the people we claim to love won’t have to (a) take care of us, or (b) put us in the ground because we couldn’t triumph over a fistful of Oreos.

Sure we can.

Happy New Year.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information &Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing

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